Mum’s the Word: Are Mums Really Perennials?

Mums are more than what you call the woman who gave birth to you. They’re actually a family of flowers! O.K., O.K., you probably already knew that… But did you know that mums are not all annuals like most people believe? Even experienced gardeners are known to make this mistake, which leaves a lot of people asking, “Are mums perennials or are they annuals?

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Are Mums Perennials?

Contrary to common belief, some mums (short for their real name, Chrysanthemum) can actually be perennials as long as they are hardy enough, which is great news for gardeners who want their planting to be one-and-done. Because, as you might know, annuals have to be replanted every season, whereas perennials return year after year. We also love mums because these flowers are deer-resistant, and repel ants, fleas, and ticks, as well. Oh, and they’re absolutely gorgeous.

All Mums are Not Alike

are mums perennials iglooAlthough traditional garden mums are popular for their many colors, flower forms and rounded, mounded habit for fall decoration, many gardeners lament about their less-than -reliable hardiness in the garden in colder areas.

This is not the case with the Igloo garden mums! Igloo perennial mums were specifically developed by breeding traditional garden-type chrysanthemums with the perennial “Sheffield”-type mum, which has great garden hardiness (-30 degrees F), which makes them true perennials.

Surprisingly, garden mums come in many different flower forms. These include decorative (rounded cushion or pompon shape), single daisy, duplex daisy (two to three layers of daisy petals), spoon-tipped daisy, button  and spider (quilled petals). Decorative-shaped flowers are more formal looking, while spider and daisy types offer a more carefree feel to gardens and containers.

Companion Flowers for Mums

are mums perennials (1)Because mums are available in so many colours, you really could create a dramatic effect in your yard simply by mass-planting a single hue. However, if you’re looking to mix your mums into some of your garden beds and landscaping, you might want to know which flowers are the best companions for mums. In which case, here are our favourite mum companion ideas.

  • Plant mums with ornamental grasses, asters, and sedum—they’re all late bloomers which makes for a very colourful show come fall.
  • Pepper your garden with spring-bloomers such as tulips and daffodils to fill the space in your mums’ off-season.
  • You can even plant your mums in an edible garden, bringing colour to the area.

How to Care for Mums

are mums perennials 1 Another reason mums are a favourite is their minimal maintenance. These flowers are low-fuss and even last longer than most fresh cut flowers when snipped for a display. Generally speaking, here’s what you need to know when caring for your mums.

  • Plant them in a spot with at least 6 hours of full sun.
  • Give your garden mums good drainage; this might mean mixing organic matter into your soil to get optimum quality.
  • Make sure you space the plants according to their requirements. Mums don’t handle overcrowding very well.
  • Keep their shallow roots moist—they are more susceptible to drying out. Mulching is a good remedy for retaining soil moisture. Mums planted in the ground don’t need as much water as container mums, though.
  • For mums you plant in the spring, use a common landscape fertilizer to help with the new growth (5-10-10 will be fine).
  • Clip the flowers—not the stems—after a killing frost, then cover the stems with 3 to 4 inches of straw until you uncover in the spring.


Mums are fantastic flowers that will give your garden gorgeous colour every fall as long as you care for them correctly! If you like getting gardening tips like these, join Rozanne’s Inner Circle for even more green-thumbed advice.